Breast Cancer vs The Tornado

Night Blooming CereusOn the day after my wife dies the local newspaper devotes the front page above the fold to one story: the drowning at the local beach. The waves pound the shore in the half-page photo of the surf.

A typical July day at the beach. Sunny and windy. Few people on the beach this early on a weekday. Good wave potential for local, East-coast surfers; as good as it gets without an offshore storm. A local man gets caught in an undertow and pulled out to sea. Exhausted, he does not swim back to shore.

A tragedy.

Over 3,000 people drown each year in similar incidents.

The news and the Weather Channel cover yesterday’s disaster halfway across the country. Victims pick their way through the wreckage of what was their home less than 24 hours ago. The contents of a dresser drawer is strewn over the lawn. A little girl clutches a limp doll. A reporter presents the microphone to the distraught victims while a helicopter hammers overhead. Cut to the helicopter shot: a path of destruction.

The Mayor insists, “We will rebuild.”

The President holds a news conference: “We will walk with you.”

He tweets: “Our thoughts and prayers go with the people of…”

2011 was a bad year for tornado deaths. Over 500 people lost their lives. Seventeen people died In 2016; ten, the year before. Over the past twenty years the average number of annual deaths is eighty.

Meanwhile, 40,000 women die of breast cancer each year.

A statistic.

Media coverage of breast cancer consists of smiling faces and pink ribbons; women running and walking arm-in-arm. Everyone is confident and hopeful. A full month of coverage finds sponsorship among the multi-billion dollar corporations.

The media tells us that overcoming breast cancer is simple: fight hard, get an annual mammogram, and think positively.

Smile. Wave to the camera. Cross the finish line.

There is no coverage of a gaunt face lying quietly in a bed.

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